Under the Dome

Morning Memo: No guns, but likely abortion legislation this session

GUN AGENDA NOT ON N.C. GOP LAWMAKERS' AGENDA: President Barack Obama may have pledged one of the most aggressive gun-control plans in decades last week, but don’t expect North Carolina to follow suit anytime soon.

Some state lawmakers said they planned to take a more cautious approach to gun-control legislation than Obama – if they make any changes at all. Jordan Shaw, spokesman for N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said “at this point, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll see any substantive changes in gun laws in the state.”

***This is the Dome Morning Memo -- a tipsheet for North Carolina politics. Read below to catch up on political news from over the holiday weekend.***

GOP LEADER TO PUSH ANTI-ABORTION THIS SESSION: Proposals to exclude abortion coverage from federal health insurance exchanges and to outlaw abortions based on gender preferences are two pieces of legislation likely to come before the General Assembly this session, a state lawmaker said days before Tuesday's 40th anniversarry of Roe v. Wade.

“There is a law being drafted to remove abortions from the health care exchange,” said Speaker Pro Tem Paul “Skip” Stam, following his speech at an anti-abortion rally in Nash Square last weekend. He added that such a proposal likely would be introduced in the Senate. He said a “sex-selection” law is another strong possibility. “In North Carolina you can get an abortion for any reason, including sex-selection abortions,” Stam said. “That’s something we’ve got to deal with.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA INAUGURATED: From AP: Turning the page on years of war and recession, President Barack Obama summoned a divided nation Monday to act with "passion and dedication" to broaden equality and prosperity at home, nurture democracy around the world and combat global warming as he embarked on a second term before a vast and cheering crowd that spilled down the historic National Mall.

THE LOCAL CONNECTION:Triangle residents who attended President Barack Obama’s inauguration said it felt great to stand in the nation’s capital in a euphoric crowd and feel a part of history. Machelle Sanders of Wake Forest made the trip with her husband and twin daughters, aged 20. They attended four years ago as well and had tickets for a spot a little closer this time. “I thought the speech was very much focused on values, and hopefully on values we all have,” Sanders said. “And I thought the president made some courageous comments as well,” she added, citing his calls for health care for all and equality for everyone regardless of sexual orientation.

INYMI, SEN. FLETCHER HARTSELL FACES MORE BIG QUESTIONS: Sen. Fletcher Hartsell Jr. is one of the top Republicans in the state legislature, a veteran of more than 20 years in Raleigh with a reputation for getting things done. He boasted in a recent interview that in the past session, no one had a hand in more successful legislation. But a deal in Hartsell’s private law practice is drawing attention of a different sort. He is a target of allegations of financial misconduct and negligence as the trustee of an elderly couple’s estate in his hometown of Concord, northeast of Charlotte.

HARTSELLS 'SET OUT TO PILFER THIS ESTATE': Lawyer David Bland of Matthews was assigned by the court to sort out the details of the multimillion dollar estate of Harold and Audree Mills. Bland says in court documents that the senator has engaged in a “continuing course of self dealing transactions” and allowed his younger brother, Thomas Hartsell, to “grossly overcharge” a trust that held their money. A longtime employee, David Piatt, who helped the Millses with daily tasks for years, says the Hartsells “set out to pilfer this estate.” The Hartsells deny wrongdoing and say they have been swept up in an ugly family fight over money that the couple intended for a church. Thomas Hartsell, a financial planner who was paid a total of at least $300,000 from the trust and by Harold Mills, once said he thought his help for the couple would cause the family to “pin a medal” on him.

THIS WEEK: Republican Gov. Pat McCrory will get lobbied by big interests Tuesday to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law. Duke University Health System, AARP North Carolina, the North Carolina Justice Center and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont will issue a letter urging him to expand. On Wednesay, the national GOP meets in Charlotte, home to the Democratic National Convention, to regroup. Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to speak. And Thursday the conservative Civitas Institute will host an evening reception with Art Laffer, the economist behind the tax report GOP state lawmakers are using as a template.

A LINE WORTH REPEATING: From Rob Christensen's column: Think of him as a sort of Southern-fried Rudy Giuliani.

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